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Obesity: Topic Guide to Sources: What is It & Why is it an Issue?

A guide to sources of information on obesity

More on the extent

Here is what the World Obesity Organisation says:

The epidemic of obesity is now recognized as one of the most important public health problems facing the world today. Tragically, adult obesity is more common globally than under-nutrition. According to the World Health Organisation (2014) their are around 2 billion adults overweight, of those 670 million are considered to be affected by obesity (BMI ≥30 kg/m²) and 98 million severely affected by obesity (BMI ≥35 kg/m²).  If current trends continues it is estimated that 2.7 billion adults will be overweight, over 1 billion affected by obesity and 177 million adults severely affected by obesity by 2025. 

We estimate that over 200 million school-age children are overweight, making this generation the first predicted to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

Source: World Obesity Organisation [online] available at accessed on 27/6/2016

Read More here.

Data and Statistics On Obesity

The World Health Organisation (WHO)  says that

Worldwide more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight and of these 600 million are obese.  


Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980. 

In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 600 million were obese.

  • 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2014, and 13% were obese.
  • Most of the world's population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
  • 42 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2013.

See WHO (2015) )Obesity and Overweight. Available from [accessed 10 May 2016]

Social and Financial Impact

Read here what Public Health England say on the wider impacts of obesity

Read here for an example of bias and discrimination as a result of obesity

Check out academic journals and sources for in-depth analysis. Governments are also likely to have data on this issue



Look at the academic literature to explore these in more depth, including books, articles and outputs from relevant organizations

Causes identified include:

  • Reduced physical activity

  • Higher levels of food consumption, or an increase in energy density (particularly fat content) of the food we eat.  

  • Social, economic, educational and cultural factors 

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  According to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionExternal Link (CDC), the following are health consequences of obesity:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
  • Hypertension
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Stroke
  • Liver and gallbladder disease
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)

This is not a definitive guide check all the other sources to check it out